The Color Of Shame
Colors can portray many things and set certain moods. Yellow can mean happiness and cheerfulness while blue is a calming and relaxing color. It depends on how the color is used. For example, yellow can also be used as a sign of caution. Sandra Cisneros uses the color red in many of her metaphors to emphasize a sense of shame and regret.
Cisneros?s character Esperanza greatly dislikes her house on Mango Street and is ashamed of it. She wanted a nice white house with her own stair and bathroom. ?But the house on Mango Street is not the way they told it at all. It?s small and red with tight steps in the front…(4).? When Esperanza is forced to point out her house she always feel embarrassed and ashamed of it. ?The way she said it made me feel like nothing (5).? The fact that the house is the bright bold color red helps point out that it is something Esperanza dislikes and is ashamed of.
Esperanza is also ashamed of the day when her, Lucy, and Rachael try on the high heels. The shoes make Esperanza feel grown up, but help her realize she is not ready to handle what consequences they bring. Feeling full of shame and regret, the girls hide the red, yellow and blue shoes, ?until one Tuesday her mother, who is very clean throws them away but no one complains (42).? Esperanza is happy the shoes are gone and want to forget their foolish actions. Once again, an area of shame in Esperanza?s life is remembered with the color red.
One of the most traumatic events Esperanza endured was next to the tilt a whirl near the red clowns. She is left alone and forced upon by some boys. She feels betrayed and lost. ?You?re a liar. They all lied. All the books and magazines everything that told it wrong (100).? She is unable to remember the exact events, but distinctly recalls ?the red clowns laughing their thick tongue laugh.? Esperanza is ashamed and angry with Sally for leaving her. The use of the color red signifies her hurt and shame regarding the situation.
Another source of shame for Esperanza is her friend Sally. She disapproves of Sally playing kissing games and getting married at such an early age. In the book, Esperanza states, ?In the movies there is always one with red red lips who is beautiful and cruel. She is the one who drives all the men crazy then laughs them all away (89).? She is referring to Sally and all the other girls who are like her. She emphasizes the color of the lips by repeating it twice, signifying its importance.
The color red signifies the shame Esperanza felt over certain events in her life. These are things she wished she could change but knew she could not. Red is a color that jumps out at you and catches your attention just as these events stand out in Esperanza?s memory. The shameful times that she regrets are marked in red.